Waste disposal regulations in the UK for tree surgeons

Tree surgeons have a duty of care to ensure that any waste they produce during the course of their work is safely disposed of. These regulations are laid out in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Controlled Waste (Duty of Care) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002. Waste wood produced by tree surgery activities is often called “arisings”. Waste wood is classified by law as construction and demolition waste.

Tree surgeons need to register as waste carrier with the appropriate statutory regulator if they want to trade waste themselves. In England this is the Environment Agency, in Wales the Natural Resources Wales and in Northern Ireland this is the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. In Scotland, waste carriers are registered with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

Registration costs around £150 (£140 in Northern Ireland) and must be renewed each year for around £110 (£70 in Northern Ireland). For more information, visit the appropriate site:

Most tree surgeons and other arboriculture professionals send their waste for recycling or recycle themselves using purchased or hired machinery. Some recycled waste produce can be sold as fuel for example.

The Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) represents wood recyclers throughout the UK. You can view a full list of members on their website.

In England and Wales, the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011 regulate businesses regularly transporting waste. This includes tree surgeons who take waste wood as part of their services. In Scotland, the Controlled Waste (Registration of Carriers and Seizure of Vehicles) Regulations 1991 applies. In Northern Ireland, the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 applies.

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